Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in by David Arnold

By David Arnold

In this cutting edge research of medication and sickness in colonial India, David Arnold explores the important position of the kingdom in scientific and public health and wellbeing actions, arguing that Western drugs grew to become a serious battleground among the colonized and the colonizers.

Focusing on 3 significant epidemic diseases—smallpox, cholera, and plague—Arnold analyzes the effect of scientific interventionism. He demonstrates that Western drugs as practiced in India was once now not easily transferred from West to East, yet used to be additionally formed based on neighborhood wishes and Indian conditions.

By emphasizing this colonial size of medication, Arnold highlights the centrality of the physique to political authority in British India and exhibits how drugs either encouraged and articulated the intrinsic contradictions of colonial rule.

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Extra info for Colonizing the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India

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Page_60 Page 61 2 Colonial Enclaves: The Army and the Jails Chapter 1 looked at the ways in which Western medicine began to see itself in relation to India's physical and cultural environment and to indigenous society and medical practices. It is now appropriate to turn to two specific colonial arenas, the army and the jails, which exemplified many of these wider ideas but where Western medicine came to occupy a position of particular authority. At a time when the state acknowledged few obligations for the health of the population as a whole, it accepted a special responsibility for the health of the soldiers and prisoners under its control.

An increasing proportion of recruits were drawn from the "martial races," particularly from Punjab, the Gurkhas of Nepal, and other "loyal" communities. The Indian Army stood at around 120,000 to 150,000 until World War I prompted a great expansion to meet Britain's wider military needs. Despite the army's importance to the British conquest of South Asia and its role in the suppression of internal revolts, for most of the nineteenth century the army's main task was to serve as a garrison force, distributed among more than fifty military stations throughout British India, the princely states, and neighboring territories.

2 The military status of the IMS was further kept alive, if only symbolically, by officers' holding joint army and medical rank. Attempts to divide the IMS into two completely separate civilian and military branches were unsuccessful before World War I, showing how extensively medicine remained the prerogative of the state even in an era of incipient public health. But it was not just that the institutional connections between the military and state medicine were close and enduring. For most of the nineteenth century, the outlook and activities of the medical profession were closely tied to military needsan association strengthened by the slow development of an independent medical profession in colonial India and hence its comparative inability to act as a critic of state medicine and an alternative source of professional employment, skills, and ideology.

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